I suggest you...
New startups fail due to lack of physical resources, lack of financial resources, and lack of knowledge/training/education.
1.) Maker Fairs and "Hackerspaces", TechShop for example, are growing in popularity and people pay to attend them.
2.) A large infrastructure of Vo-Tech and community colleges exist across this country.
3.) A student loan system is already in place.
4.) MANY entrepreneurs and inventors, on this site and others, have spoken of the need for mentoring, training, and knowledge bases.
5.) The political will currently exists to support job and business growth in America.
A Unified solution and Big Govt. money not needed:
Let's get Federal, State, and LOCAL government and private sector support behind the notion of an Inventor/Entrepreneur "Vo-Tech" program where founders enroll for practicum classes that relate directly to business operations, product design and development, financial training, customer and market development, prototyping, etc. In essence, we would combine the idea of a hackerspace with that of a community college or vo-tech school where the inventor/entrepreneur can learn while launching and have access to financing thru student loans. Also students with more experience can test or opt out of some of the basic classes and get right to the heart of developing their idea.
The students would have to face the same requirements for student loans as anyone else, but the tuition and lab fees would be used for the direct and practical development of an idea rather than purely theoretical learning. To guard against abuse, expenditures would be discussed with and pitched to the teachers/mentors as business expenses. The student not only gets funding, they learn how to do finances realistically at the same time.
Students in classes in design, business, manufacturing, etc. would be given real world problems to solve to help their fellow entrepreneurial classmates achieve launch.
By engaging the Investor Community during the course of the program, students will learn about professional financing opportunities and challenges and the investors will be more likely to invest in innovations and founders that have demonstrated a willingness to learn and develop solid skills.
Intellectual property protection will be necessary between the participants and with the institution, and this will also be a practical learning exercise for the students.
There are likely to be two challenges to successful implementation from the academic community:
1.) We must guard against the tendency of academic institutions to try to inflate this idea into some sort of bloated, overpriced degree program. If students want to advance to a degree that is wonderful, but the primary emphasis must be on innovation and product/business launch. The degrees can come later.
2.) Intellectual Property: Any educational institution that wishes to participate must agree to be strictly limited in the amount of ownership they will be allowed to extract from program participants/students and the innovations they develop. In principal the institution's ownership should be zero, and this could become a competitive point in the institution's favor when students go shopping for a program to enroll in.
Thanks for reading, and please vote for this!
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